Even as the Congress on Sunday decided to grant 30% reservation to women at every level in the party, as well as in the police, some young women leaders apprised party president Sonia Gandhi in a closed door session about the “psychological and physical exploitation” at the hands of some senior party leaders. Acting on the complaint, Gandhi immediately asked for setting up a women’s grievances redressal and legal cell within the party.
Gandhi who actively participated in the sub-group discussing issues of women, asked women to come out with the incidents of harassment faced, if any. She said atrocities on women, both in urban and rural India, are a blot on our collective conscience and a matter of great shame.
Encouraged by her intervention, several women participants in the group complained about male party leaders torturing them.
They asked Sonia to hand out exemplary punishment to such leaders. “We urged Soniaji to stop this, no matter how big price the party has to pay. The price could indeed be high as some senior leaders do have a reputation of womanising and formal complaints have been filed against many,” a woman delegate told DNA.
The women leaders also said when elections are around, they are exploited at various levels and political patronage flows through sexual gratification. Many women leaders concede in private that politics can be a dirty place for women who do not have a godfather or a family background. But it was for the first time that some women leaders have gathered courage and opened up to to the party chief.